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Five Features to Get Excited About in ‘State of Decay 2’

Posted: 01 May 2018 12:01 AM PDT

Undead Labs’ State of Decay launched back in 2013 and rode the waves of popularity in the zombie apocalypse genre. Now with its second major installment State of Decay 2, the open world survival horror game series aims to be bigger and better than the original game.

Here are five reasons why you should be excited.

A survivor climbs the back of a huge zombie
Be careful, some of these fatties can explode!

Upgraded User Experience

More information! The updated user interface is now cleaner and more in-depth, offering more options, better descriptions of equipment, and nearly every piece of information for your home base you could need.

The map and its icons are also extremely intuitive and help offer some much-needed direction in this apocalyptic wasteland. Add these features to a much more dynamic looking character selection screen and you have a winning user experience.

Exploring a house at nighttime.
The Darkness creates tension

Character-Specific Missions

While playable survivors are procedurally generated, they now come with their own character-specific missions. Upon returning to your home base and accessing the community menu, characters will have little icons next to their names, signifying that they have a mission.

Switching to that character will automatically initiate the mission and if the character dies or you switch to a different character, the mission will be abandoned. Completing character missions is imperative for gathering materials quicker and upgrading your base. For us, these missions varied greatly from clearing out outposts to mowing down zombies in a sweet ride.

These were just a small taste and we expect to see even more when the full game launches later this month.

A zombie sprints towards a survivor with a shotgun.
Like you'd expect bullets pierce.

The More the Scarier

With new drop-in, drop-out co-op capability, players can now survive alongside their friends. Like with any other ally, friendly fire is turned off and all loot is color-coded, divided between each player.

Everyone gets their own stuff, so stealing and griefing isn't too much of a worry. Inviting a random player into your world can still be dangerous — if they decide to bring a horde to your base and you die, it's still permanent.

There are a few drawbacks to joining up with others. First off, any supplies deposited at their base goes completely to them. However, all character experience and item pickups will remain. Players will still be rewarded with other bonuses when returning to their own game for time spent away.

One player strikes at a zombie while another aims at it.
Zombie difficulty doesn't scale up in co-op. They take the same amount of damage.

Get Down With the Sickness

While getting nibbled on by a zombie wasn't too big of a deal in the original game, now it can be a ticket to a quick death. Plague zombies still have the same vulnerabilities of others, but come with the added threat of infecting your character.

Getting attacked by these distinct plague zombies with a fleshy, blood-red appearance will infect you with the plague. Once infected, a meter will appear in the lower hand corner and begin to fill up. An infected character will inevitably become a plague zombie, forcing the player to use resources to cure them or decide on how to get rid of them.

A red plague zombie with protruding tumors and red eyes.
Yep, it's pretty easy to tell which ones carry the disease.

 

Fight for Fuel

While it was mostly used for explosives or generators in the previous games, fuel is now vital to another important resource in the game: Cars.

The days of endlessly driving around, wherever and whenever you want are over.  In addition to cars being few and far between, they are now more realistic in requiring gas. Players will need to micromanage their cars now, as each has their own individual fuel meters that need to stay topped off. Unless you want to find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere and forced to hoof it back to base.

Cars – and their ability to store items for the player – are extremely valuable, as each character’s inventory is limited by the size of their backpack and their maximum carry weight.

A survivor shoots into a pack of zombies on a forest's edge.
Get ready to spend some stamina running.

Final Thoughts

State of Decay 2 is definitely shaping up to capitalize on the remaining popularity of zombies and the survival genre. Thankfully, it’s coming back with some great new additions while enhancing what was enjoyable in the first game. State of Decay 2 is scheduled to release May 22, 2018, on Xbox One and PC.

To see each of these new features plus more in action be sure to check out the State of Decay wiki and our video above.

The post Five Features to Get Excited About in ‘State of Decay 2’ appeared first on FANDOM.

Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3 Timeline Explained (UPDATED)

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 01:30 PM PDT

SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers from the complete Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline through Avengers: Infinity War. Proceed at your own risk.

An original version of this article appeared on December 13, 2016. It was updated on April 30, 2018 to reflect the events of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War. See subheading “Wrapping Up Phase 3” for the newest info.

The juggernaut franchise that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched Phase Three of its plan to dominate cinema in 2016. The year began with the massive superhero slugfest that was Captain America: Civil War, and ended by introducing magic and mysticism in Doctor Strange. Looking ahead to 2017, Phase Three continues with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok. With another five films scheduled for Phase Three, the MCU will stretch to twenty-two individual films by the end of 2019.

Over the course of fourteen films starting with Iron Man in 2008, numerous interconnecting storylines have been weaved through the narrative. It can be hard to keep them straight, especially when the concepts jump films. Which Infinity Stone is which? How many are there? Who is Thanos? What happened to a certain character? What exactly is shawarma? As 2017 approaches, we look at where the Marvel Cinematic Universe currently stands, and what we can expect in the films to come.

The Avengers

marvel-avengers-lineup

United in their common goal to defend the Earth from alien threats and the scourge of HYDRA, the Avengers soon faced a product of their own (well, mainly Tony Stark and Bruce Banner) creation: Ultron. Although they ultimately won the day, it marked the start of the Avengers’ downfall. In the wake of the battle, the Hulk went missing and Thor returned to Asgard, worried by a vision he had. And both Tony and Clint Barton effectively retired from the field. Steve Rogers organized a new Avengers team with himself and Natasha Romanoff as the core. They were joined by Sam Wilson, James Rhodes, Wanda Maximoff, and Vision.

A disastrous mission to Lagos caused international outrage as many considered that the US-based Avengers were operating unilaterally on foreign soil. This led to the creation of the Sokovia Accords which called for the registration of all super-powered individuals and vigilantes. The Accords also called for regulation of the Avengers under the auspices of an international oversight committee. The signing of the Accords split the Avengers along philosophical lines as they decided to be either pro- or anti-registration. During the signing of the Accords, the meeting was seemingly bombed by the Winter Soldier, killing the king of Wakanda, T’Chaka.

Steve’s refusal to sign the Accords and his insistence that the Winter Soldier was not behind the attack led to a Civil War between the Avengers. By the time the dust settled, the Avengers were torn apart with one major casualty – James Rhodes suffered severe spinal injuries that left him paralysed. Tony also found out that the Winter Soldier was responsible for the deaths of his parents, and that Steve knew the truth, leading to an almighty battle between the three of them. Now, the Avengers Facility stands virtually empty, home to only Tony, Rhodes, and Vision.

Captain America and the Winter Soldier 
captain-america-and-winter-soldier

In the wake of the Avengers Civil War, Steve Rogers has given up his shield. As Tony pointed out at the end of their fight in Siberia, the shield was made for him by Howard Stark. The same Howard Stark who Bucky Barnes – the Winter Soldier – assassinated. And since Bucky is (literally) Steve’s oldest friend, he refuses to abandon him, knowing that he was brainwashed into committing murder. Tony considers him unworthy to wield the shield, and Steve agreed.

But Steve is still Captain America. And Captain America does not leave comrades behind. Because they supported Steve in the Avengers Civil War, Sam Wilson, Clint Barton, Wanda Maximoff, and Scott Lang were imprisoned in the Raft. But Steve could not let them remain incarcerated, and broke them out. Now they are fugitives, but Steve promises Tony that the Avengers will be there when the world needs them. Which, with Thanos after the Infinity Stones, will probably be sooner rather than later.

Appropriately enough, Bucky Barnes lives up to the name of the Winter Soldier once more. Despite being free of HYDRA, Helmut Zemo proved that he was not free of their influence. Using trigger codes, Bucky reverted to the mindless assassin that HYDRA created. Afraid of what he might do if anyone else obtains his trigger codes, Bucky voluntarily returns to cryogenic suspension under the watchful eye of Prince T’Challa in Wakanda until he can be free of HYDRA’s influence.

Black Panther and the nation of Wakanda

black panther 1

Wakanda has come out of its own self-imposed isolation after Vibranium was used by Ultron to create both Vision’s body and his own upgraded form. One of the Wakandan’s outreach missions was in Lagos, and eleven relief aid workers were accidentally killed by Wanda Maximoff as she tried to contain the explosion from Brock Rumalow’s bomb vest. The tragedy in Lagos set into motion the creation of the Sokovia Accords. During the signing, King T’Chaka was killed in a bombing perpetrated by Helmut Zero and blamed on the Winter Soldier.

Prince T’Challa has now taken the mantle of King of Wakanda after the death of his father. Not only is he now ruler of Wakanda, he is the superhero known as the Black Panther. He initially blamed the Winter Soldier for the death of his father and sought vengeance. Eventually, T’Challa discovered that the true culprit was Helmut Zemo. Seeing how the vengeance Zemo held against the Avengers had consumed him, T’Challa refused to follow the same path and let go of his own.

King T’Challa now leads Wakanda as they move into the international community. He has also provided refuge for Bucky Barnes, cryogenically freezing him at his own request to prevent him from being used again to hurt and kill.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

scott-lang-and-hope-van-dyne

By the end of Ant-Man, Scott Lang had found a sense of peace. He was a burgeoning superhero, a real hero to his daughter, Cassie, and finally on friendly(ish) terms with his ex-wife and her new husband. Scott was no longer a wanted man and had paid his debt to society. He was embarking on a romance with Hope van Dyne. And Sam Wilson was looking for him since the Avengers were interested in his abilities. Life was getting pretty interesting for Scott.

Scott’s association with Sam Wilson and the Avengers led to him siding with Steve Rogers during Civil War. During the battle, he demonstrated a new ability to grow to giant-sized proportions. Like all of Steve’s allies, he ended up imprisoned in the Raft after the battle at Flughafen Leipzig-Halle. Steve broke them all out at the end of Civil War, but Scott Lang is once again a man on the run. How that will affect his new relationships is yet to be determined.

Hope van Dyne pleaded with her father, Hank Pym, for years to let her wear the Ant-Man suit and was furious when he passed her over in favor of Scott. But now, Hank is finishing the suit he intended for his wife before she was lost in the Quantum Realm. Hope will become one of the newest superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – the Wasp.

The Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians Of The Galaxy - The Video Game

A group of ragtag misfits and criminals – Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot – were united by a common love of money and vengeance. They became the Guardians of the Galaxy and lived up to their name. They defended Xandar and the rest of the universe from the machinations of Ronan the Accuser and the Power Stone. But it was not without cost. Groot sacrificed his life to save his comrades. Pardoned for their previous crimes by the Nova Corps, the Guardians resolved to do something good. Or something bad. Or a bit of both.

Ronan may have been the main villain of Guardians, but it was Thanos who set events in motion. Thanos, known as the Mad Titan, is seeking the Infinity Stones for his own ends. Through his machinations, he has now tested the mettle of the Avengers and the Guardians. Thanos is now heading for a confrontation with the assembled superheroes. But not just yet.

Armed with an entirely new soundtrack, the Guardians are joined by unlikely new recruits Yondu, Nebula, and Mantis. They are heading back into adventure, and this time, Peter Quill will be meeting his father. Oh, and Groot? He’s kind of still alive. Or a version of him is, at least. And he is adorable. The biggest question though, will be whether Cosmo the Spacedog will join the team. Or if Howard the Duck will make another cameo.

Thor, Loki, and Asgard

thor_odin_loki

Following the Dark Elf assault on Asgard that left Queen Frigga dead, Asgard stands at a crossroads. Thor left for Earth to be with Jane Foster and generally pal around with the Avengers. Loki was seemingly dead, slain by Kurse in Svartalfheim, and Odin was grieving for his wife. In reality, Loki sits on the throne of Asgard, disguised as Odin after faking his death and returning to Asgard in secret. Whether Odin is dead or alive is currently unclear, and will most likely be cleared up in Thor: Ragnarok.

Loki has his own agenda, and no one on Asgard is any the wiser that their king has been replaced. But Thor knows doom is coming to Asgard. Wanda Maximoff used her powers to give him a vision of Asgard and Heimdall claiming that Thor would lead them all to their deaths. Thor sought clarity in the Water of Sights, and learned that at the time that four of the Infinity Stones had been discovered. Following the defeat of Ultron, Thor returned to Asgard seeking answers.

From the post-credit sequence of Doctor Strange, it becomes clear that Thor learns of Loki’s survival and (presumably) his impersonation of Odin. The brothers come looking for him in New York City, and enlist the help of Doctor Strange. Thor’s absence from the events of Civil War were explained because he was on vacation in Australia, taking some “me time,” and rooming with Darryl. He was not idle however, investigating the Infinity Stones and Thanos (purple, magic glove, doesn’t like standing up).

The Masters of the Mystic Arts

masters-of-the-mystic-arts

The Masters of the Mystic Arts, led by the Ancient One, have protected the Earth from extradimensional and mystical threats for centuries. While heroes like the Avengers protect the physical world, the Masters protect everything else. Their order is secret, spoken of in whispers. But they stand as Earth’s defense against the likes of Dormammu.

Doctor Stephen Strange has now joined their ranks, showing remarkable talents that allowed him to harness the power of the Time Stone to defeat Kaecilius and Dormammu. However, the battle to stop them resulted in the death of the Ancient One. With the Ancient One gone, Doctor Strange now stands to inherit her mantle as Sorcerer Supreme. But while he is now the protector of Earth from mystical and extra-dimensional threats, he is still learning to be master his new powers.

Doctor Strange may be one of the new superheroes to surface in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he is quickly becoming a player. Now in charge of the New York Sanctum Santorum, Strange maintains a watchlist of otherworldly threats to the Earth, which includes affably evil Asgardian schemer Loki.

Spider-Man

Iron Man Spider-Man homecoming feature hero

Captain America: Civil War introduced not only Black Panther, but was the debut of one of the most popular Marvel superheroes – Spider-Man. Fresh from the deal with Sony allowing Peter Parker and his webslinging alter-ego to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the latest incarnation of the wallcrawler has firmly established himself as a fan-favorite.

Spider-Man: Homecoming will follow Peter’s adventures as he attempts to establish himself as a bonafide superhero and prove himself to Tony Stark while presumably keeping him away from flirting with Aunt May. This is no origin story, though. Peter is already well-established as Spider-Man, and soon faces his greatest threat to date: Batman Vulture. Also, high school.

The youngest hero to date in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: Homecoming promises a departure from the standard superhero story. In much the same way as Guardians of the Galaxy introduced the MCU to vastness of the galaxy, and Doctor Strange introduced the mystical and magical, Homecoming looks to show what happens when an average person gains powers. And the responsibilities that come with it.

The Infinity Stones

Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Tying the Marvel Cinematic Universe together are the Infinity Stones – six gems of extraordinary power. In the fourteen films so far released in the MCU, five of the six stones have been discovered. The Space Stone, introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger as the Tesseract; the Mind Stone, introduced in The Avengers within Loki’s scepter and now residing in the forehead of Vision; the Reality Stone, introduced in Thor: The Dark World and known as the Aether to the Asgardians; the Power Stone, introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy and now safely held by the Nova Corps; and the Time Stone, introduced in Doctor Strange and encased in the Eye of Agamotto.

With the reveal in Doctor Strange that the Eye of Agamotto houses the Time Stone, only one Infinity Stone remains undiscovered – the Soul Stone. Viewers have kind of seen it already in Guardians of the Galaxy, and we know one thing: it is orange. But that’s pretty much the extent of our knowledge. Where it will show up, we can only speculate at this point. Considering Thanos is after all six, we can assume that it should make its debut before Avengers: Infinity War. Of all the films in Phase Three, the most likely film for the Soul Stone to debut in is probably Thor: Ragnarok.

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor learned that four of the Infinity Stones had been discovered, and knew their discovery in recent years was no coincidence. He believed that someone was playing their own game, and they were little more than pawns in his scheme. One thing is sure: once the Soul Stone comes on to the board, Thanos will make his move to secure the stones and assemble the Infinity Gauntlet.

Wrapping Up Phase 3

Avengers Infinity War War Machine Captain America Black Widow

The bulk of this article has covered the earliest events of Phase 3, mainly the films Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange. However, A LOT has happened since then. Asgard was completely destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok, as was Mjolnir, Odin, Hela, the Warriors Three and a large amount of Asgard’s population. The survivors of Ragnarok were almost completely wiped out during the first few minutes of Infinity War, including Loki and Heimdall, which means Thor is currently without a family, without a planet, or without a people.

Spider-Man is currently an Avenger. While he wanted to keep a low profile in Spider-Man: Homecoming, he was “knighted” as an Avenger by Tony Stark during Infinity War. The events of Homecoming grounded Peter, they humbled him, they also taught him the valuable lesson of how to be a hero when the mask isn’t on.

The Guardians, who are currently MIA after the events of Infinity War, except Rocket, lost both Yondu and Peter’s father, Ego during Guardians Vol. 2. Star-Lord’s father turned out to be a self-obsessed galaxy killer, so Peter and the Guardians took him out. Sadly Yondu was lost in the battle. Nebula and Gamora also healed the rift between them during the film, which set up one of the most emotional moments in Infinity War: Nebula’s torture and Gamora’s surrender of the Soul Stone to Thanos.

Avengers Infinity War Mbaku Okoye

That brings us to Wakanda. During the events of Black Panther, Wakanda came under siege from Kilmonger — T’Challa’s cousin. Kilmonger succeeded in becoming the new Black Panther, but not for long. At the end of the film, T’Challa and Shuri agreed to open Wakanda’s borders to the outside world. In Infinity War, Captain America brought Vision to Wakanda so Shuri could separate him from the Mind Stone. This proved unsuccessful and Vision was killed by Thanos when the Mad Titan ripped the gem from his head.

That leaves us with the aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos used the gauntlet and wiped out half of the universe, including half of the Avengers. The only Avengers left are Black Widow, Captain America, War Machine, Iron Man and Bruce Banner. The only Wakandan leaders left are Shuri, M’Baku, and Okoye. As for the Guardians, only Rocket and Nebula are left. Even Nick Fury and Maria Hill vanished at the end of the film, which brings us to the final stand-alone movie of Phase 3: Captain Marvel. Her logo appearing at the end if the film signals that she will be a key part of Avengers: Infinity War.

The next three films in the phase are Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel, and Avengers 4. Hopefully each of these films will bring the right sense of closure to what has been the most unpredictable phase yet.

Ant-Man and the Wasp hits theaters on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on March 8th 2019, and Avengers 4 on May 3rd, 2019.

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Non-Spoiler Review: Marvel Delivers On Every Promise

The post Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3 Timeline Explained (UPDATED) appeared first on FANDOM.

What ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Means for the Marvel Cinematic Universe Timeline

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 10:51 AM PDT

SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers from ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’ Proceed at your own risk.

There was a lot that happened in Avengers: Infinity War. And while things were left on a bit of a downer, directors Joe and Anthony Russo also delivered a massive cliffhanger. We have no concrete knowledge of what Avengers 4 will bring, but a great deal of speculation based on events in the comics and clues we've picked up have provided us with some theories. What we can say with some certainty is that the team-up film will round out the events of the past ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and usher in the next phase. So how will Infinity War impact the MCU timeline? Here are our best guesses.

Time Is a Healer

Avengers Infinity War Scarlet Witch Vision
The Time Stone embedded in Vision's forehead.

All the evidence in Avengers: Infinity War points to the fact that the MCU timeline is about to get a very big jolt indeed. During sequences in the film, we saw the Time Stone, which gives the bearer mastery over the flow of time, used to manipulate events. Doctor Strange was able to see into the future, which seemed to influence his behaviour, while Thanos used it to turn back time and pluck the Mind Stone from Vision's forehead.

The climax of the film saw Thanos apparently succeed in his mission to obliterate half the population of the universe. Heroes such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Peter Quill all disappeared into oblivion with the snap of his finger. Which suggests that the manipulation of time may well be a tactic that comes into play again in any attempt to undo what Thanos has done.

And in sanctioning this, Marvel Studios could essentially press reset on the entire MCU, thereby theoretically resolving all the timeline-related plot holes fans have been chewing over for years.

Where Does Ant-Man and the Wasp Fit In?

After the intense shenanigans of Infinity War, there needs to be a compelling reason to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp. The movie is the next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to hit screens and looks to be taking place after the events of Captain America: Civil War.

In Infinity War, we learn that Ant-Man, Scott Lang, cut a deal with the authorities following the part he played in violating the terms of the Sokovia Accords and is under house arrest. Looking at the trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp, this seems to be where the film picks up.

But a standalone film ostensibly unrelated to the events of the MCU's double-header finale at this stage in the game would be a conundrum. So it follows that it should and will lay the groundwork for Avengers 4.

With Infinity War apparently dispatching half the Avengers in one fell swoop, it's got fans asking what exactly has happened to them. We speculated here and here that the heroes may have been transported to the Quantum Realm – an alternate dimension where the normal rules of time and space don't apply.

Scott Lang has himself visited the realm; and Hope van Dyne's mother, Janet, was transported there back in 1987 when she was fulfilling Wasp duties ahead of her daughter picking up the mantle. It seems likely that Ant-Man and the Wasp will further explore the Quantum Realm in preparation for its appearance in Avengers 4. It could also mean that both the Wasp and Ant-Man become extremely significant in the forthcoming conclusion to the Infinity War as they attempt to bring Spidey and the others back from the beyond.

And What About Captain Marvel?

captain marvel movie
Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.

Carol Danvers – also known as Captain Marvel – is about to appear in her own solo outing. It will come next year, after Ant-Man and the Wasp, hitting screens just a few weeks before Avengers 4. And while we didn't catch a glimpse of the new MCU superhero on screen in Infinity War, we were given a glimpse of her significance in the films to come.

A post-credits scene revealed Nick Fury sending her a distress call via an archaic, modified pager just before he disappeared into the ether, going the way of the Avengers we watched disintegrate before our eyes earlier in the movie.

It's evident, then, that she'll have a big role to play in the future of the franchise with her 1990s-set solo outing revealing her origin story as well as explaining her absence from the ensuing films in the timeline and setting up her involvement in the grand Avengers finale next year. And, presumably, beyond.

Does This Set Up a Female-Centric Phase 4?

Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, who finally looks to be getting a solo movie.

There's been plenty of chatter about what's to come in Marvel's next cinematic phase, which fans are unofficially calling Phase 4. It begins with the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2019. To date, nine additional films have been announced, with titles and dates yet to be confirmed. Although we do know that there will be a third Guardians of the Galaxy film in 2020, according to director James Gunn, and a Black Widow solo film should follow sometime after. The search is reportedly currently on for a director for that, with Amma Asante leading the pack. The film would likely delve into Natasha Romanoff’s past and her time with the KGB — although there’s word that it could also be set during another time period just before the character’s MCU debut in Iron Man 2.

With the importance of Guardians stars Nebula, Gamora and Mantis in the franchise growing, Captain Marvel about to come in, and the long-awaited Black Widow looking like it's finally going to see the light of day soon, does this suggest we'll see more films revolving around the women of the MCU as it strides into the next phase? There's also the impact made by Black Panther's all-female military outfit, the Dora Milaje, plus T'Challa's tech genius sister Shuri to consider. Not to mention Wakandan super-spy Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong'o, from the same film.

Ant-Man and The Wasp
Evangeline Lilly's Wasp suited up with Ant-Man.

Well, hopefully. Although, we have more than hope to go on in support of the notion. As we've already mentioned, Evangeline Lilly's Wasp will soon be proving her worth, as Hope van Dyne suits up for the first time in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp. It's likely she'll be figuring prominently as the franchise progresses.

But we also have an inkling that there's a team-up film for the women heroes in the offing. The success of DC's Wonder Woman has proven there's a giant appetite for women taking center stage in comic-book movies and it makes sense that Marvel would want to both emulate that success and satisfy the demand.

In Infinity War, we got a teeny taste of what a female team-up flick might look like when Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Danai Gurira's Dora Milaje leader Okoye teamed up to tackle Thanos minion Proxima Midnight. Was this Marvel testing the water? On the evidence of the fan reaction to it, it would go down a storm.

25 Easter Eggs, Cameos and Surprises from ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

The post What 'Avengers: Infinity War' Means for the Marvel Cinematic Universe Timeline appeared first on FANDOM.

What ‘Avengers 4’ Needs to Do After ‘Infinity War’

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 10:29 AM PDT

WARNING! This post contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War. Proceed with caution.

Avengers 4or whatever it ends up being called — is going to have a lot of heavy lifting to do after the events of Avengers: Infinity War. With a huge part of the story still left to be told, we decided to look at exactly what goals Avengers 4 needs to achieve when it releases next summer.

Wrap Up the Thanos Story

Avengers Infinity War Thanos
The Mad Titan achieved his goal, but now what?

Thanos has been a looming shadow over the Marvel Cinematic Universe for almost a decade. Now, we’ve finally seen him unleashed. But, his story isn’t going to be over just yet. Avengers: Infinity War might have left Thanos at a satisfying place from his point of view, but the audience is definitely going to want something much more final and celebratory than what we saw.

If Avengers 4 is really supposed to close a huge chapter in the MCU’s history, it needs to definitively end the story of Thanos. Whether that means we’ll see some setup for a new big bad remains to be seen. Regardless, Thanos has had his day in the sun. Let’s see how the Avengers write him out of the story.

Get the Heroes Back

avengers infinity war feature
Those who survived 'Infinity War' are going to be helping with quite a few resurrections.

Obviously, Avengers 4 is going to be pre-occupied with erasing what Thanos did at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. The death of so many iconic characters won’t stick, so we’re assuredly going to see our remaining heroes doing everything they can to reset everything that’s happened. But, how much of the movie will be centered around that?

Hopefully, the entirety of the film won’t be devoted to this plot point. We need to get all those characters back but not at the cost of dragging out their inevitable resurrection for another two-and-a-half hours. If the first half of the film can get the heroes back, then the second half should give us the gigantic assault on Thanos we’ve been waiting to see.

Permanently Change the Roster

The original team needs to get their fond farewell.

We’ve known for a while that Infinity War and Avengers 4 were going to conclude the stories of a lot of the original Avengers lineup. With most of the initial members still alive at the end of Infinity War, the next film needs to change up the Avengers roster in a permanent and unambiguous way.

Whether that means conclusively killing off certain legacy members like Iron Man and Captain America or simply finding a way to remove them from the story, Avengers 4 must leave us at a place where we know that the old Avengers team is over and a new group of heroes is going to take the reins.

Set the Stage for Something Grander

Infinity War
The Marvel Cinematic Universe should become the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse.

The Infinity Stones offer an immense opportunity for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the ability to do anything to reality, these magical MacGuffins could potentially reshape everything we know about the MCU. That means rewriting history, opening up alternate dimensions, or completely changing what we know about characters.

What if Tony Stark never becomes Iron Man? Or could we see what version of Captain America comes to be in a divergent timeline? The possibilities are limitless and Avengers 4 needs to position the future of the MCU as something truly immense and boundless. If this cinematic comic book experience is going to go for broke, it needs to set up the future of its world with no worries about how crazy it can get.

We’ll find out exactly if Avengers 4 meets these goals when it hits theaters on May 3, 2019.

How the Infinity Stones Could Change the MCU Forever

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7 Tearjerker Moments From Movies You’d Least Expect

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT

Movies have the power to move us. The usual suspects include movies centering on romantic relationships like Titanic. Others, like Schindler's List and The Color Purple, deal with strong subject matter. Many kids' films are guaranteed at least one tearjerker moment (case in point: Toy Story 3). But sometimes, the appearance of a tearjerker moment is not as predictable. Here's a look at seven tearjerker moments from movies you'd least expect.

Ant-Man

Ant-Man shows off a lighter and more hilarious side of the MCU. This is put on pause when Dr. Pym finally reveals to his daughter, Hope, what really happened to her mother, Janet Van Dyne (aka the original Wasp). To disarm a missile, Janet shrinks between the molecules to get at the internal mechanics, and in doing so, she goes subatomic.

This reveal about Janet adds a level of emotional depth we weren't expecting from this fun-loving superhero film. The tearjerker moment goes a long way toward healing the relationship between Dr. Pym and Hope. Although, on an interesting note, there are rumors she may be alive.

Man of Steel

Usually, when a hero triumphs over the villain, it's a joyous moment. For Superman in Man of Steel, his triumph leaves him devastated. During Superman's final showdown against General Zod, Zod comes dangerously close to obliterating innocent civilians with his heat vision. Superman is given no choice, but to snap his neck.

Most superheroes have an unwritten code forbidding them from killing others. Zod may have been a zealot, but he was still one of Superman's brethren. Taking these notions into consideration, we feel Superman's anguish as he gets on his knees and screams in horror at what he's done. This is the most emotionally-charged big screen moment for the legendary DC superhero.

Transformers: The Movie (1986)

Long before Michael Bay got his hands on the franchise, the 1986 film, Transformers: The Movie, helped define pop culture in the 1980s. This movie was the first time the franchise dealt with death, something that would have been unheard of in the cartoon series from which the film is based. In the movie, Optimus Prime meets his untimely demise thanks to a final confrontation with Megatron. The scene showing his final moments as his teammates mourn is excruciating to watch.

Deaths in animated films are sure to be tearjerker moments, but this one may be one of the darkest. It's one of the first times we see an animated character's actual death on-screen. It doesn't help that this scene is accompanied by a somber piano melody from music composer Vince DiCola. To this day, this scene continues to jar both kids and adults alike.

Home Alone

Home Alone may seem like a simple Christmas comedy, but one scene holds a surprising amount of emotional gravitas. While watching the choir at church, Kevin is joined by his neighbor. As Kevin and Old Man Marley talk, we learn that Marley has had a falling out with his son.

We feel for Marley's plight and it's touching watching him and Kevin talk through their problems. Their chat helps solve each other's problems and makes for an ending that tugs at your heartstrings. Christmas has the power to instill touching moments even into a movie better known for its slapstick.

 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is the perfect balance of the fun of the original cartoon series and the more mature themes of the original comics. As a result, the film takes us on a journey that's both funny and surprisingly emotional. One pivotal moment happens while the Turtles are taking refuge at the O'Neil farm. A mystical campfire summons the spirit of Master Splinter (don't worry, he doesn't die), who reminds them of how proud he is of them.

This scene gets at the heart of the special father-son relationship Splinter has with the Turtles. The Turtles don't even have to speak, their expressions say it all. This level of emotional magnitude is probably the last thing you'd expect from a franchise about four mutated reptiles who normally crack jokes and eat pizza in a sewer.

Men in Black 3

The original Men in Black did well in pioneering the sci-fi-comedy genre, and its two sequels build off this well. Men in Black 3 offers a scene worthy of the most dramatic sci-fi. Boris the Animal murders Agent Jay's father, who was trying to protect Agent Kay. Agent Kay is there to let a young Jay know that his father died a hero all while the full-grown Jay watches on.

This moment shows that Jay and Kay's partnership cuts much deeper than we realized. The tearjerker moment is quite the poignant reveal in a movie from a franchise that lends itself to silliness. This scene alone is reason enough to give this sci-fi-comedy a second watch.

Big Daddy

Adam Sandler is probably the last person you'd expect to give a moving performance, but Big Daddy proves you can't judge a book by its cover. Sonny's man-child antics cause Julian to develop some bad habits, but Sonny eventually turns things around and becomes a good father. So, when a social worker comes to take Julian away, it's utterly heart-breaking. Sonny's attempt at fighting back tears cuts deep.

Most of Sandler's oeuvre is the antithesis of anything resembling a tearjerker, which makes this scene all the more moving. You can't help but smile when he wins custody of Julian in the end. Big Daddy shows that you can find a tearjerker moment even in the most surprising of films.

The 5 Best Disney Movies Without a Death Scene

8 ’80s Movies Every Millennial Needs to Watch

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‘Solo’: All About New Star Wars Scoundrel Tobias Beckett

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 05:53 AM PDT

There’s been confusion surrounding Woody Harrelson’s character in new ‘Star Wars Story’ Solo. Over his name. His intentions. And whether or not he’s a hero or villain.

As the character is something of a mentor to Han Solo, speculation suggested that Harrelson was playing Garris Shrike, a father figure to the character, who first appeared on the page via The Han Solo Trilogy. But Harrelson then revealed — on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon — that he’s actually playing a brand-new character, called Tobias Beckett.

As for whether he’s a good guy, there’s evidence to suggest yes. And quotes that hint at the opposite…

Who is Tobias Beckett?

Beckett is a thief, smuggler and all-round soundrel, who teaches young Han the tricks of his trade in the movie. Though speaking to Entertainment Weekly, writer Lawrence Kasdan suggests the friendship isn’t entirely Beckett’s idea.

“Han sort of forces himself into Woody’s life,” explained Kasdan. “It starts a relationship that has enormous impact on what kind of person Han will be.”

Director Ron Howard goes further, claiming Beckett is the biggest single influence on Solo. “He really shapes Han more than anybody,” Howard stated when speaking to EW. “As Han comes to realise that in a lawless time he needs to try to come to terms with some kind of moral code.”

The film’s story revolves around Beckett putting together a criminal team to carry out a daring heist. One he hopes will raise his status, and make them all rich in the process.

The Long John Silver Connection

Lawrence Kasdan and son/co-screenwriter Jon Kasdan both re-read Treasure Island before starting work on Solo, because they wanted the Tobias Becket and Han Solo relationship to resemble that of Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins.

In Robert Louis Stevenson‘s classic adventure story, Silver is a pirate with one leg and a parrot on his shoulder. He befriends young Jim Hawkins and takes the boy under his wing. But Silver is also clever, cunning and opportunistic, and doesn’t hesitate in turning on those around him when treasure is at stake.

Will Beckett turn on Han in similar fashion during Solo? The jury’s still out on that one, but he does rather ominously say this during one of the trailers: “Let me give you some advice. Assume everyone will betray you and you will never be disappointed.”

Which could very well apply to Tobias and Han. Meaning Beckett will be one to keep an eye on when Solo hits screens on May 24 in the UK and May 25 in the US.

‘Solo’ Should Have Been ‘Lando’

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Naruto Sneaks onto Switch, But Added Portability Isn’t Enough For A Second Buy

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 05:03 AM PDT

In what’s been a bumper year for Nintendo’s latest, it looks like seemingly every major franchise has started to make its way over to the Switch. Now, hot on the heels of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, Naruto has snuck his way onto Nintendo’s new hybrid with the Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy. So how does the ninja action fare with the first ever Naruto Switch game?

Unfortunately, this isn’t a new offering. Bandai Namco’s latest is a collection that comprises of the first three Naruto Ninja Storm games ported to the Switch, giving fans a huge amount of great looking ninja action you can play on the move. Unfortunately, that added portability is about all that's changed here,  outside of some improved loading times (even without the switch being docked). Unsurprisingly then, this package is still one that will probably only appeal to die-hard Naruto fans.

As with the previous console versions, each game has many meandering quests to complete with so much running around asked of you, that we think we actually covered more ground here than in Breath of The Wild. When you eventually do get to a fight though, they play just as well as they look. Despite offering up some enjoyable over the top anime antics, however, it’s hard not to come away a bit underwhelmed. With fighting games coming on leaps and bounds in the decade since the first Naruto Ninja Storm was released, playing these games in 2018 feels like a pretty shallow experience.

That isn't necessarily a bad thing if you’re looking just to pummel some ninjas on the go, but for the hardcore fighting game fan, this isn’t your next portable game, save your money for Smash Bros.

The fights looks fantastic but are rather simple
The fights looks fantastic but are rather simple

So who is this game for then? Any hardcore Naruto fan will forgive the boring filler content in order to play through the storylines in an engaging and enjoyable way. However, the issue is that it’s hard to imagine any gaming Naruto fans that haven’t already played these games to death. If you are in that small category that have watched all of Naruto but have not played these games then, we would definitely recommend you pick this tidy trilogy up. Otherwise we can't imagine that just the allure of replaying through these three games on the move will be enough to part you with your money a second time.

Off we go to make another bird house, what an adventure
Off we go to make another bird house, what an adventure

Hopefully, this is the last we will see of a Naruto fighting game without depth and too much filler content. The release of Dragon Ball FighterZ has shown that anime series can also appeal to hardcore fighting fans by giving their series another dimension, just by removing one.

Who ever knew going from 3D to 2D could look so good
Who ever knew going from 3D to 2D could look so good?

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If You Like ‘XCOM’, You Need to Know These Five Games

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 05:00 AM PDT

It’s a good time to be a fan of turn-based tactics. The last two XCOM games were magnificent, and the sequel even secured its longevity by enabling modders. But Firaxis is just one studio, which can only come out with so much content every few years.

That leaves a massive hole for tactics addicts, and several new games are stepping up to fill that space. All of them have their own unique take on the genre, but there are also some XCOM idiosyncrasies each game is vocally addressing. The biggest one is die rolls, and each game below approaches this in its own way.

We think more than a few of them look pretty good too, but you be the judge…

Three squad members hide in Mutant Year Zero
Stepping into the guard's awareness circle triggers combat.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

Based on a popular Swedish board game, Mutant Year Zero has high-level talent from both the Hitman and Payday franchises, and it shows. Seamlessly blending real-time stealth with turn-based, tactical combat, you’ll avoid guards and collect information before battles begin so you can have as big an advantage as possible.

Everything you collect in Mutant Year Zero, from cosmetic items to home base upgrades, has to be earned in the field. That goes for squad members too, and these anthropomorphised soldiers will all have different mutation trees to explore.

‘Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden’ Mixes ‘XCOM’ with Real-Time Stealth

There are die rolls in Mutant Year Zero, but rather than the emphasis being on the randomness, the focus is on factors that effect the randomness. This means variables like cover, height, and special effects have lots of weight when determining hit percentages.

Expect a lot of 0% and 100% shots. And expect to be able to heavily modify those percentages with smart play.

Phoenix Point

With one of the main brains behind the original X-COM: UFO Defense, Phoenix Point has a strong claim to being its spiritual successor. Creator Julian Gollop’s name helped the project through a successful crowdfunding campaign, and now that the game is showing pre-release scenarios, it’s pulling in quite a lot of money indeed.

One of the key differences here is Phoenix Point allows players with accurate rifles to target specific body parts, a la Fallout. It’s not necessary — if you think you’ll definitely hit their left arm, you can just eyeball it. Phoenix Point is aiming for a simulation feel, where every bullet’s trajectory is calculated individually.

Throw in a few massive bosses with more than enough parts to target, and you’ve got yourself a few different emerging strategies.

‘Phoenix Point’ is the Spiritual Successor to ‘X-COM: UFO Defense’

What we played of the game was intensely difficult, but not impossible. Expect to walk into a fight with a plan, and formulate a few new ones by the time you get hit with your first bullet. As Mike Tyson says, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.

For us, that was our crucial soldier — the heavy weapons specialist — getting shot in the right hand, making him unable to fire and useless for the rest of the battle. That simulation-level specificity of combat can work against you, too.

Phantom Doctrine

Probably the most unique entry on this list, Phantom Doctrine is heavily focused on story. Set in the Cold War, you’ll infiltrate compounds to steal information and sabotage enemy efforts, in a time when spies physically needed to be present to cause digital mischief.

At the extreme ends of the Phantom Doctrine tech trees, it dips into Cold War conspiracy theories. You’ll come across programs like MK-ULTRA, and brainwashing enemy spies is an option. Of course, you won’t always know if they’ve done the same to you…

‘Phantom Doctrine’ Tackles Turn-Based Tactics Without Dice Rolls

It completely does away with die rolls. You’ll either hit or you won’t, and there will be tradeoffs, but no randomness. Each unit on the field also has an “Awareness” bar that allows them to affect outcomes. Conversely, some attacks and events sap a target’s Awareness. It’s a strategy that can and will be used against you.

After you’ve completed the campaign from both sides of the Cold War, you can then play it again from the perspective of the Mossad. Each side brings new insights to the conflict.

Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus

We’ve all seen plenty of games about Space Marines, now that the floodgates are open for 40K games. But how many games let you play as the Adeptus Mechanicus?

These Martian worshippers of the Machine God were one of the Emperor’s first additions to his glorious Imperium of Man. They’re mostly credited with building the massive Titans and warships, but in Mechanicus, you’ll be taking Tech-Priests directly into battle.

A Tech-Priest aims at a Necron

In this interesting take on the formula, you need information from the surrounding nodes to upgrade your abilities. It’s a bit like gathering resources mid-combat.

Your main enemy here is the Necrons, and the longer you spend dilly dallying, the more they awaken. There will be a lot of dumb, weak enemies, and often one very powerful Necron Lord.

Battletech

This is the only game on this list that’s out right now, so you can go grab it at your leisure. Based on the popular tabletop game, Battletech is basically Mechwarrior but in top-down, turn-based tactics mode.

It involves some lengthy battles, and complex UI elements to display all the combinations of who can see who, and who’s in who’s firing arc. That’ll be a good thing for some, and for others it’ll be a slower pace than what they expected from seeing giant robots on the tin.

It is a very pure representation of the board game though, and that earns our respect. With nearly the price tag of a full triple-A game, you’d want it to be involved.

There’s no lack of awesome tactics games coming up. While we’ll forever lament the lack of sequels in absent franchises like Advance Wars, it’s actually great to see these faithful, successful representations of tabletop games. Not to mention unique newcomers like Phantom Doctrine.

Many of these are not too far out from release, as well. The first casualty in this war will be your free time.

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What Parents Can Learn from Playing ‘God of War’

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 04:16 AM PDT

By most accounts, FANDOM not excepted, the new God of War for PS4 is quite the excellent video game. Personally, I'm not quite on board with the maximum-score brigade ; but I've certainly been having fun enough with the game to poke around in its side-quest corners and form an attachment to the not-quite-a-new-man (well, god) at the heart of the adventure, Kratos.

A lot of that comes down to helping the God Of War tackle his toughest challenge yet – parenting.

Our protagonist's temper might've cooled ever so slightly in the frigid air of his new Midgard surroundings, but when his blood's up, only someone who actively wants to be turned into chunks would stand in his way.

Mercifully, his companion on this journey up and down a mountain, and then onto a series of other realms, is incredibly capable of sidestepping his raging fury. As he might, given he's known the bald beardo his whole life – Kratos' sidekick being, as you almost certainly already know, his son, Atreus. (And please, don't run that past Real Greek Mythology, as it'll lead you down a Wiki rabbit hole you'll possibly never return from.)

Which makes Kratos gaming's latest father figure, following the likes of Joel from The Last of Us (bit clingy), Michael from Grand Theft Auto V (bit criminal), and Octodad from Octodad (bit calamari).

But just what can players learn about the joys and pains, highs and lows of modern parenting from following burly dad and dinky junior on their quest?

Don’t bother calling kids by their real name

Let's start at the beginning. Within minutes of turning on God of War, Kratos will say, sternly, to his son: "Get in the boat, boy." And "boy", as he's so regularly referred to rather than his actual name, probably because [redacted for massive spoilers], duly obliges, no questions asked, no arguments made. Which is absolutely not how this would play out in real life.

Children are incredibly obedient (if you’re a mass-murdering deity)

Now, I'm not sure how old Atreus is here, but as someone who's got a son of not so many years younger, let me tell you: an incentive is necessary. Perhaps Atreus fears his father's temper? Perhaps he knows not to get on the wrong side of him, given the situation they're in during the game's opening scenes – which is one of reflection and mourning.

But kids' minds don't work like adult ones, and more often than not, to get one's pride and joy to do as they're told necessitates a "reward" for the compliance.

So, what Kratos would really be saying, if trying to get his boy strapped into the back of the car after the weekly big shop, is something like: "If you get in the car, boy, we'll stop off at the drive-through and get a mega bucket." Which, naturally, benefits father as well as son – and you know Kratos needs his protein, even if it's served deep-fried.

No matter where you run off too, your kids will always magically appear beside you

One criticism that can be leveled at God of War is that its camera is a finicky customer. It's not always easy to be fully aware of what's around Kratos – be that enemies swarming his position, or where the hell Atreus has got to. Now this, parents to be, is something to take on board: no matter where you go, your kids will make themselves scarce with amazing ease.

The library, the beach, the park, the motorway services lavatories they insisted you stop at even though then they couldn't go and now they've tricked you into buying two bags of sweets for the cost of a three-course meal (before vanishing into thin air, that is).

In the game, Kratos need only effortlessly leap across a chasm, or grab a split in the side of a sheer cliff face in preparation of scaling it like it's the gentlest incline for Atreus to immediately snap to his side. IRL, though? Ha. No.

There's no magical parenting prompt or quick-time event to summon your brood – outside of frantically waving those sweets around while suppressing a gently panicked scream in the middle of the fumes-pungent forecourt.

Even when his boy genuinely gets lost, while pursuing a magic pig through thickening mist (not even making that up, that pig is totally magic), Kratos barely adds a wrinkle of anxiety to his battle-scarred veneer. I mean, he does call for Atreus, but it's pretty half-hearted – almost like he'd rather continue his quest alone. And at times, let me tell you: strong relate.

Your offspring will break things. A lot.

Kratos tests Atreus' speed and temper

Later, he barks to his boy, as they wander into an elven warzone: "Stay here, touch nothing." Words to that effect. But whatever the exact language used, c'mon Kratos: you know, surely, that's not going to work. Kids are precision engineered to Mess With Stuff. Often, it's your stuff, the stuff they shouldn't be near in the first place, let alone getting their sticky mitts all over, leaving jam smears and felt-tip smudges on your important documents and limited-edition collectibles.

And sure enough, Atreus can't help himself. While exploring a mine once worked by giants, he goes and breaks an all-important lift mechanism, setting the pair's progress back a considerable series of triggered combat encounters and physics puzzles. The little turd.

No wonder that Kratos' steely, unmoving, emotion-stripped demeanour begins to wobble. And then it breaks, and he chastises his son – only for the brat to answer back, a gobful of snark uttered as an intentionally discernible mutter.

Kids will say terrible things to you, but it’s OK because you’re bigger than them.

Kratos doing a bit of parenting.

"You have something to say?" hisses Kratos, patience thinned. Normal service resumes, and Atreus goes back to calling his father "sir", like he's some sort of Dickensian street urchin fishing for pennies from passing well-to-dos.

And if you think that's ever going to happen in 21stcentury parenting, you've another thing coming.

"Sir"? You'll be lucky to get a "daddy" past the age of four. The words that can come out of the mouths of babes, honestly. Have you walked past a junior school playground lately? You can't see where you're stepping for all the blue in the air.

God Of War probably isn’t the best parenting simulator…

But, of course, you're not playing God of War to learn about how to raise your own youngsters, nor should you try. (Parenting 1o1 please, do not give your kids arrows of their own – someone's eye will get taken out, and nobody needs another 1066.)

You're playing because you get off on watching muscly men hack great lumps out of dragons and ogres and trolls and Famous Gods who, really, should have played the previous games in this series before starting a fight with the big guy with the big axe. The great big Norse buffoons.

"Don't be sorry, be better," Kratos advises his son after Atreus fails to make an arrow find its mark.

Now that's a sentiment you'd best get used to expressing, in your own way, when bringing up a bairn or some – in a genuinely encouraging sense, of course. But really, who'd ever be good enough for the fabled Ghost of Sparta? Who could ever stand up to him? Surely, nobody ca… Oh, there's PaRappa and Sackboy, actually. But that's a whole other article.

‘Shadow Of The Tomb Raider’ Offers Slick, But Familiar-Feeling Fun

The post What Parents Can Learn from Playing ‘God of War’ appeared first on FANDOM.